It wasn’t too long ago that the definition of drama was related to literature, stage performances and the expression of art. Now we define everything in terms of drama – “She’s a drama queen”, ”This office is just full of drama” or “I can’t deal with his drama right now” are just a few of the normal expressions we have in our day to day lives.
Drama has become somewhat of an addiction just like the overuse of alcohol to numb your feelings or the overuse of social media to escape your life. If you don’t think you are addicted to drama then consider the following from the article “10 Signs You’re Addicted to Drama”:
- You frequently find yourself involved in other people’s arguments that have literally nothing to do with you
- You like knowing everything that’s going on with everyone, and being the one to share that news with others
- You don’t consider yourself a violent person, but if someone “crosses a line”, you’re the first to threaten a fight
- Silence freaks you out
- You struggle with commitment
- You change jobs frequently
- You’re constantly complaining about all the drama in your life, but you’re secretly glad
- You talk about the past…A LOT
- You make little things a big issue
- You feel like nobody understands you…Ever
If you identified with any of these statements, you may want to keep reading. Even if you don’t think you are full-blown addicted to drama, you may be affecting your children without even realizing it.
This week I’m going to discuss why drama is enticing, how that could be affecting your children and how to stop.
Why drama is enticing
I don’t know about you but I find it fascinating how dramatic our brains can be. It either acts like a toddler having a temper tantrum when you are trying to learn something new or it’s acting like a very dramatic teenager who hates every idea you present to it.
Since your brain is a story-making machine it must create a story for you based on the millions of pieces of information it filters out every day. This all happens without your awareness. Your brain is constantly being bombarded with things to see, hear, smell, taste, touch and process.
The primitive part of your brain just wants to keep you alive. It takes all the stimuli, filters it, selects anything that may relate to your demise and ignores almost everything else. So basically your primitive brain is a drama queen. It’s either life or its death to the primitive brain.
The funny thing is that we think other people or situations cause our drama when in fact it is our brain that causes it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does because nothing can cause drama for you.
Drama is your interpretation or opinion about people and situations. Interpretations and opinions are created by your thoughts. Things outside of you are only neutral circumstances until you make them mean something with your thoughts.
For example – your child comes home with a note from the teacher that there has been a breakout of a flu-like virus in the school. Your primitive brain takes that information and thinks “OMG my kid is going to get sick and die!”
It may seem silly to go from A to Z but that is exactly what your brain does without your conscious awareness. All of a sudden you are feeling scared and can’t focus at work without realizing how your brain has interpreted that note from the teacher.
It’s also important to know that your thoughts create drama because those thoughts create your feelings. When you have dramatic thoughts you probably feel riled up, stressed out, overwhelmed or out of control.
Those negative feelings are what drive your actions or inactions. Feeling stressed because your brain has dramatized a note from the teacher may cause you to make mistakes at work or make you yell more at home without knowing the underlying cause.
It’s even more important to note that your level of stress can directly affect your children in physiological ways. Let me now tell you why being a drama mama can hurt your children as much as it hurts you.
How being a drama mama can affect your children
Like most parents you probably do your best to raise your children in a loving environment, provide the basic necessities and support them in their growth. As a working mother you work inside and outside your home trying to do your best to balance both.
You also probably try to keep your level of stress away from your children and may try to wear the badge of “super mom”. If there is some drama going on in your personal or professional life, you try to shield your children from the negative effects of any drama. But what if your mind drama was actually affecting your children?
In a study by a team of researchers which included University of Notre Dame professor of psychology E. Mark Cummings, they found that they could measure a couple’s marital happiness by asking them questions or taking a 24 hour urine sample of their children. The children who get upset when their parents fight are more likely to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their urine. In this study they tested 200, 6 year-olds whose parents had a simulated telephone argument.
The increase in cortisol increased their blood pressure, blood sugar and reduced their immune response. Even though this research was done in conjunction with how marital conflict negatively influences a child’s development, it still shows how your children are affected by your words and actions. These children were only witnessing the negative words and emotions of their mother yet it affected them physiologically.
Since drama is caused by your thoughts and your thoughts create your feelings and actions, you cannot avoid reacting to drama whether you want to or not. The drama in your mind will be experienced by your children based on how they experience you.
So if that isn’t a good enough reason to stop being a drama mama, I don’t know what is! But how do you stop bringing drama into your life and your children’s life?
How to stop the drama
If you are really serious about stopping the drama in your life then I can help but first you must recognize that no matter what someone else says or does, it’s not drama. There is only drama if you decide to have the thought that it’s drama. The way you label something is how you experience it.
You may be thinking that you’ll just avoid the people or situations that set you off, but that means you are blaming things outside of you for how you feel. It means you aren’t taking 100% responsibility for your thoughts, feelings and actions.
It may seem easier to just use avoidance but it’s not because you cannot control what other people say or do around you. For example, you cannot leave a job every time there’s a boss or coworker that you think causes drama. If you continue to believe that other people cause drama for you, you will always feel stressed around them and emotionally exhausted from interacting with them.
A number of years ago I had an altercation with a family member. There were things said, other family members got involved and lines were drawn. For a while we were all fine with staying away from each other and carrying on our separate lives. But over time there were occasions where we were going to be together. Avoidance was no longer an option I was comfortable with.
The secret to stopping the drama in your life is learning to manage your mind around the people, places and things that you are blaming for the drama. If you have a work environment where you feel overwhelmed or disrespected that just means you have a work environment where you are not managing your mind. If a note from the teacher sets off fear and panic, you are not managing your mind.
When the party invitations came up that I was going to be with this family member, I knew that I didn’t want any drama. By working on my own self coaching and managing my mind, I knew that any drama would be coming from my thoughts. When the original issue happened, what this person said and did were all neutral circumstances until I made them mean something. If there was any drama happening, it was because of what I was choosing to think and feel now.
By taking emotional responsibility for your thoughts and feelings, you don’t have to fear any kind of workplace or family drama. By overriding your primitive brain’s tendency to be a drama queen, you can take back control of how you experience anyone or anything. No one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel.
In order to start working on not being a drama mama, start by:
- Stop telling yourself other people cause your drama
- Stop labeling people or situations as “toxic”
- Notice how you feel when you label people as “causing me drama” or “toxic”
- Become aware of how you act or react when you feel that way
Now that you have the awareness of how labeling things as drama makes you feel and act, you can choose how you would like to feel instead. In order to feel that feeling, decide what you would need to think.
In my situation I decided that I wanted to have a great time at the two parties I would be attending with my family member so “fun” was the feeling I chose. In order to feel fun I chose to first create a blank slate in my mind, as if I was meeting this person for the first time. Then I chose to write the thought “I’m having such a fun time” on that blank slate.
Once it was time for the first party, I had practiced my new thought so many times that I did have a wonderful time. When the second party came around months later it was even more fun. There was no drama in my mind therefore there was no drama in my experience. The best part was being able to be an example for my children of what’s possible when you manage your mind.
Giving up drama doesn’t make life boring; it actually makes life much more exciting and manageable. This week take a look at where you experience drama and start taking the crown off the drama queen in your mind.
- So basically your primitive brain is a drama queen.
- Things outside of you are only neutral circumstances until you make them mean something with your thoughts.
- The children in the study were only witnessing the negative words and emotions of their mother yet it affected them physiologically.
- The way you label something is how you experience it.
- By overriding your primitive brain’s tendency to be a drama queen, you can take back control of how you experience anyone or anything
If you’d like some help with being a drama mama, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.